Thursday, 16 March 2017


Away for a couple of weeks.
I tried to schedule some fascinating blog posts to amuse my readers while I'm not here, but nothing has gone to plan! So I'll be back in April with news of my travels. Stay tuned....

Monday, 13 March 2017

Jelly Time

Jellyfish are soft-bodied, free swimming aquatic animals with a gelatinous umbrella shaped bell, and long tentacles. Jellies have floated along the ocean currents for 500 million years, making them the world's oldest multi-organ animal.
The creature is an invertebrate made mostly of water, and has no heart, brain or bones.

Tiny stinging cells in the tentacles stun their prey and provide an easy way to catch dinner which can be fish, shrimp, crab, or even tiny plants. They move by squirting water from their mouth.
The jellies at the Planet Jellies exhibit at the Aquarium are translucent and are enhanced by the changing coloured lights.... a fascinating ballet of delicate movement.

Saturday, 11 March 2017


Time for some of the more static creatures of the oceans.
Sea anenomes are close relatives of jellyfish and coral, and may look like plants, but are actually aquatic animals. More than 1000 different varieties found throughout the world oceans. When I was growing up near the beach in England, the rock pools were full of red and green anenomes, looking like round lumps of jelly stuck to the rocks when the tide was out, but waving their tentacles menacingly when under water.

They may look like pretty flowers, but beware.... they are predatory! They are able to release venom through their many tentacles surrounding a central mouth, and stun their prey, making it easy to enjoy dinner. Sea anenomes can live up to 50 years, and most varieties are anchored to one place and unable to chase their prey. They'll ensnare and eat fish, zooplankton, larvae, worms, in fact whatever comes along.

Afterthought.... and nothing to do with sea anenomes.... Happy Birthday to my Dad, he was born 135 years ago today!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Big Fish, Little Fish

A trip to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is always fun. I was there with the family a couple of years ago, here, and this time I met with some English friends who were on vacation and joined them in being a tourist for the day.
The Aquarium opened in October 2013. It's right downtown in Toronto, located at the foot of the CN Tower. Lots of big numbers here: 16,000 marine animals; 135,000 square feet; 1.5 million gallons (5.7 million litres) of water; 17 habitats; more than 100 different species of fish; the world's most extensive jellyfish exhibit.

It was the perfect day to see the fish. No huge crowds to battle as the children are still in school. It will be a different story next week during March Break.

Monday, 27 February 2017

More Abstract

This time it's collage.
We had fun cutting and tearing strips of paper and glueing them down to make a picture or a composition, or just a pretty pattern. I ended up with so much glue on my finger tips that they started to stick together. I guess I'm not a very tidy collage artist.
I wish I had taken photos of all the finished work, there were some really imaginative designs.
I've learnt that pages torn from the National Geographic Magazines (known as the yellow peril) are the best for collage... good quality paper and lots of great colours, especially providing a variety of gorgeous blues if you're doing a seascape. I'll have to keep my eyes open for the glow of yellow when yard sale season starts again.

No National Geographic in this one, just plain coloured papers ripped up and glued to red card.
I call it "Rough Sea at Sunset". It' looks best if you squint your eyes. Or perhaps close them completely??? Pinned to my garage door at the moment.

Beach grass? Cactus in the desert? Prairie grasses under a summer sky?
Whatever it is, it was fun to create. 
I love the look of pictures made from paper collage. I have far to go in this form of creating art, but if you want to see an expert at work, have a look at the work of Scottish collage artist Dawn Maciocia. This is gorgeous:

Friday, 24 February 2017


Our Thursday Art Group has been exploring the mysteries of abstract art and having a go at it ourselves. You'd think it would be dead easy to splodge a few brushes full of paint on a canvas and smear and spatter it about and call it "Art", but believe me, it's a lot harder than it looks.

Abstract art doesn't necessarily have to actually represent anything, or be recognisable, it can just be a pleasing pattern or combination of shapes, forms, colours and lines. It's definitely a departure from reality. And it's very hard for me to get away from reality when I'm surrounded with it! It's an exercise in thinking and painting "outside the box", something I'm not at all good at.

I call this "Lost in Space" because I was really lost in trying to make this look good.
Black gesso spattered with white gesso and acrylic paint. I like the swirly shapes.
More gesso, acrylic paint and collage of bits and pieces of coloured paper.
I think I might add more to this, perhaps some coloured markers or acrylic ink.

Coloured markers on paper. trying to emulate the abstract work of Alex Janvier's circular paintings. 
I'm not quite sure what I was trying to say here, if anything, but it was fun choosing the colours and shapes. See the face? 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Baking and Back Alleys

It doesn't happen often, but today I felt inspired to do some baking, so here's my bread. I usually combine whole wheat and white flour but I ran out of whole wheat so this is made with white bread flour with the addition of bran, oats and flax seeds. It will be delicious with some of that marmalade I made a couple of weeks ago.

And than I decided there was nothing sweet in the house to eat, so peanut butter cookies were next on the list. I ate three of them straight out of the oven, and then I had to cover them with a tea towel, just so I couldn't see them. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yesterday I was prowling some of the back streets, looking for interesting buildings.

This might end up as a painting. I like the different roof lines and chimneys. That's the top of the town Clock Tower peeking out on the right. I think the backs of buildings are often more interesting that the front.